Note: Before I could get this article published the UN went and decided to loan the Cambodian government enough cash to pay the outstanding salaries owed to the court’s Cambodian workers so I figured I might as well put it up here. A press release about the loan can be found here.
Cambodia’s troubled Khmer Rouge tribunal is managing to limp toward a verdict in the first “mini trial” of “brother number two” Nuon Chea and head of state Khieu Samphan, despite ongoing strike action by 134 of the court’s operational staff.
Even as the deadline for final submissions in Case 002/01 is pushed back again to September 26, the court is marshalling its remaining resources to keep work underway.
But questions remain as to how long it can continue without the Cambodian audio/visual, IT, legal support, cleaning and security staff, translators and interpreters who are refusing to come to work.
Note: This is intended to be an organic document. Any corrections or suggestions for additional material – videos, pictures, articles – are welcome. It’s also a bit of an experiment. Please let me know what you think in the comments at the bottom.
It could have been any Sunday morning in Phnom Penh. Motodops hustled, food cart vendors hawked, homeless kids scrounged, women cooked and gossiped, men gambled and gossiped. The sun was out but there was a storm on the way. Standard. There was just the small matter of the razor wire everywhere. And the soldiers.
Cambodia will go to the polls on Sunday after what looks like being the most peaceful and relatively straightforward election campaign the troubled Southeast Asian nation has ever seen. But by no means is this a sign the country’s “strongman” Prime Minister Hun Sen is relaxing his grip on power. Quite the opposite.
Ruthless and wily, Hun Sen is a classic – almost Bond-esque – villain. A former Khmer Rouge commander who lost his left eye to shrapnel during the battle for Phnom Penh in 1975, he defected to Vietnam two years later when it looked like he might become a victim of the genocidal regime’s murderous paranoia – then marched back in with the Vietnamese as they booted Pol Pot out of the capital in 1979. He was installed by the Vietnamese as prime minister in 1985 and has ruled the country with a lock-jaw grip on power ever since.
Now nearly 30 years later and Asia’s longest-surviving prime minister, Hun Sen remains happily ensconced in his multi-million-dollar mansion, complete with a helipad on the roof and located on the most prominent corner in Phnom Penh, and says he is determined to remain in situ for at least another decade or so. For the good of the country.